BG 079: Existential Threats and Risks: We Can’t Escape Impermanence!

Episode Description:

“At any moment the Yellowstone caldera could blow up, wipe out %99 of the life on the surface of the planet, and probably all humans, and in our last minutes the degree of equanimity with which we face that prospect is the test of our dharmic fortitude and wisdom.” – James Hughes

In our final episode with professor James Hughes we tackle the less rosy side of Transhumanism, which has to do with massive existential threats and risks. Though there are many natural risks that could threaten humanity as a whole, including large asteriod collisions, gamma bursts, and super volcanoes, the Transhumanist recognize a whole host of other ways that we could threaten ourselves with advanced technologies.

In addition to discussing these threats and all of the possible side traps on the way toward a more techno-utopian future, James ties these together with our understanding of the dharma. He argues that even in a techno-utopian future (assuming we make it), we will still have to deal with annica—the ever changing flow of reality.

This is part 3 of a three-part series. Listen to part 1, Transhumanism and the Authentic Self and part 2, Cyborg Buddhas & Techno-Utopian Pure Lands!

Episode Links:


James Hughes

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Dr. Hughes is author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future , and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha.